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E01695: Greek inscription on a possibly Christian fragmentary amulet, invoking the help of the Archangels: *Michael (S00181), *Gabriel (S00192), and *Ouriel (S00770) for a horse, and possibly the help of *Sisinnios, a holy rider (S00608), against a demon. Provenance unknown, possibly Syria. Probably late antique.

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posted on 06.07.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Face A:

ἵππος, Μιχαήλ, Γαβ-
ριήλ, Οὐριήλ, βοήθ[ι]
[σ]ε σπ<ε>ίρε<ι>ν· ἄλ<ε>ιψε Θε(- - -)
[- - -]ΕΟΥ μεθ' ἡμ[ῶν]

3. [- - -]ε ἔσπ<ε>ιρεν Seyrig || ἄλειφε Manganaro || 4. e.g. [ἡ χάρις τοῦ θ]εοῦ μεθ' ἡμ[ῶν]

Face B:

φεύ<γ>ε, φεύ<γ>ε Αβιζι-
ον. ἔνθα γὰρ κατοικῖ
[Σι]̣σίννις και Σισιννία
]ολαβραξ. Κ<ύριε> (?), φύ-
[λαξ]ον Θεόδωρον, ὃν ἔτη-
[κεν Χ]ριστίνα· εἷς ̣θ[ε]̣ό̣ς
Τ Λ

3. κοίων = κύων (?) or Κ<ύριε> Seyrig

Face A: 'Horse, Michael, Gabriel, Ouriel, help make you fertile! (He?) anointed The[- - -] is with us.'

Face B: 'Run away, run away, Abizon! Because here dwell Sisinnios and Sisinnia [- - -]. Lord (?), protect Theodoros, whom Christina bore. One God.'

Text: Seyrig 1934, 5-8 with completions from SEG 51, 2010.

History

Evidence ID

E01695

Saint Name

Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Gabriel, the Archangel : S00192 Sisinnios (unspecified) : S00608 Ouriel, the Archangel : S00770

Saint Name in Source

Μιχαήλ Γαβριήλ Σισίννις

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.) Literary - Magical texts and amulets

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

400

Evidence not after

800

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

800

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Private ownership of an image

Cult Activities - Miracles

Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people Animals Demons

Source

Upper fragment of an inscribed bronze amulet (a pendant). Lines 3-4 on Face A run around an almost completely lost depiction of probably a bearded man with a whip. A star is visible to the left of his head. Provenance unknown, presumably Syria. Now in the American University Museum (the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC). First published by Henri Seyrig in 1934. An improved reading was offered by Giacomo Manganaro in 2001 and by the editors of SEG 51.

Discussion

The inscription is on an amulet, invoking the help of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Ouriel. Henry Seyrig believed that the amulet was made by a Christian-pagan syncretist, and that the horse, mentioned in line 1 was the so-called 'black infernal horse', a supernatural entity, frequently appearing in pagan charms. A new interpretation was suggested by Giacomo Manganaro. Based on a new reading of line 3 on Face A, he points out that this part of the charm contained a semi-magical invocation, meant to increase the fertility of an ordinary horse (possibly a race horse). Manganaro concludes that the amulet could have been fixed to the horse's harness, like other similar objects (see: E00927; E01139). As for the text inscribed on Face B, which is not discussed by Manganaro, Seyrig commented that it protected a certain Theodoros, perhaps from the demon Abizon, a variant of the name Obyzouth, a demon conquered by Solomon and Saint Sisinnios (see the comments in E01318). Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that the name Sisinnios, occurring in line 3, is of that holy figure. The identity of his female companion is more problematic as the saint is usually aided by his brothers, Sisen, and Sinodoros. Seyrig proposes that this might be a sister of Sisinnios, and that the amulet refers to an unattested version of the legend, in which the demon kills Sisinnia's child, and then is pursued by Sisinnios. In his comments on the inscription in Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, Rolf Tybout notes that the Theodoros, for whom the charm was designed, might have been a horse owner or even a charioteer (the figure depicted with a whip on Face A). Therefore, we might have here a case of a charm protecting both an animal and the man owning it.

Bibliography

Edition: Manganaro, G., "Byzantina Siciliae", Minima epigraphica et papyrologica 4/5 (2001), 177. Seyrig, H., "Invidiae medici", Berytus 1 (1934), 5-8. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 51, 2010.

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